At first, I wanted to post these articles because they were hysterical. Now, I’m posting them because they provide such a sharp contrast to what we’ve seen in the past four months.
The following took place almost eight years ago, but judging by the networks’ attitudes, it seems like it‘s been much longer than that:
IMUS ENGINEER FLIPS THE BIRD
New York Daily News
October 21, 1999
A childish stunt pulled by the engineer of Don Imus' WFAN radio show resulted in MSNBC yesterday apologizing for potentially offending viewers.
It was not a pretty sight.
Show engineer Lou Rufino yesterday gave viewers of MSNBC's "Imus in The Morning" simulcast the middle finger as the show was going to a commercial.
The scruffy Rufino, who is often seen as the cameras pan the control room during commercial cutaways, mimicked a school-yard prank, in which he faked scratching his face as a way of flipping the proverbial bird.
"Televising 'Imus in the Morning' is like covering a sporting event, it's live, it's spontaneous and anything can happen," said an MSNBC spokesman. "We apologize if anyone was offended."
While gritty prime-time shows such as ABC's "NYPD Blue," which airs at 10 p.m., have used the middle finger to convey a specific message, the gesture is not a regular part of Imus' sometimes raucous morning radio show.
Moreover, Rufino's display appeared calculated, and occurred as MSNBC's remote cameras panned his off-stage area.
When Imus and his on-air compadres returned from the commercial break, no mention was made of the offense.
And, said the spokesman, no one called MSNBC to complain about Rufino's actions.
'IMUS' LETS THE FINGER DO THE TALKING
New York Daily News
October 22, 1999
A day after an MSNBC spokesman apologized for viewers being given the middle finger by a staffer on the "Imus in the Morning Show," the radio pranksters were at it again.
As reported yesterday, show engineer Lou Rufino displayed his middle finger during Wednesday's telecast, forcing MSNBC to apologize.
But yesterday, seeing potential humor in the flap, host Don Imus repeatedly reran the tape of Rufino's finger-flashing. Imus himself also offered frequent doses of the middle finger.
"This is what giving the finger is," Imus said, visibly offering his own interpretation of the act.
Imus put his finger on the issue early in his drive-time show. Rufino denied he gave viewers the finger, saying he had really only been scratching his face.
But Imus' tune changed after the tape was replayed.
"You little, lying weasel," Imus told Rufino. "You little, dirty, lying maggot."
Asked yesterday if MSNBC condoned Imus & Co.'s antics, an MSNBC representative, clearly afraid of upsetting the I-Man, responded with praise for the radio host. The network airs the show on a delay, though it did not use it yesterday.
" 'Imus in the Morning' has millions of loyal adult viewers and listeners that expect the unexpected, appreciate the show's brand of humor, and respect Imus' in-depth newsmaker interviews," the representative said.